Q&A: Questions and Answers

“Q&A: Questions and Answers,” New Era, Dec. 1990, 17

Questions and Answers

Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

Whenever I try to talk to a member of the opposite sex, I start shaking and my mouth gets dry and I lose my train of thought. What can I do to get more confidence and be more at ease.

New Era

You know the feeling—the weak knees, the deafening heartbeat, the sweaty palms brought on by being near an intriguing member of the opposite sex. You have a chance to chat with this person, but it isn’t turning out quite as you had planned. All intelligent thought seems to leave your mind. You are tongue-tied, utterly speechless.

In order to be more comfortable talking to members of the opposite sex, you’ll need practice. Good conversationalists aren’t born that way; they have to work at it. It’s like developing any other talent; it takes time, patience, and dedication. Practice on nonthreatening members of the opposite sex—your friends’ brothers or sisters, neighbors, people in your ward.

Talk to people you meet every day at the grocery store, at church activities, on the bus, in the cafeteria, and at work. These are easy places to strike up conversations with others and will help you overcome the fear of talking to people you don’t know well.

Observe someone who is good at talking to people. What do they say to make people open up? How do they put people at ease in conversation? What kinds of questions do they ask? Watching someone else may give you some valuable insights.

Observe the people you want to talk to. Do they have hobbies or talents that would be good conversation material? Once you identify possible topics, talking to the person shouldn’t seem quite so difficult.

If you’re really nervous, you might want to plan out the conversation in advance. Then when you’re in the situation, you will already know what to say.

Concentrate on the person you’re talking to rather than yourself. When you focus on the other person, you forget your own insecurities for a moment. Pay attention to what the other person is saying. Part of being a great person to talk to is being a good listener.

If all this advice is just too much to try all at once, start small. Start by being the first to say hello. Then you can build up to asking, “How are things going?” Even though the answer might be, “Fine,” you are set up to ask a more personal question like, “Wasn’t that a good speaker?” or “Do you like this song?” or “Did you see the game last week?” Don’t be discouraged if it takes a little while to move on to more significant subjects. If the other person knows that you are friendly and willing to talk they may be more at ease with each conversation.

Most of all, remember that being able to converse easily with the opposite sex takes practice. So don’t despair. As with all things that you want to work to improve, you can pray to your Heavenly Father for help and comfort.

The Golden Rule applies to your interactions with the opposite sex. Be courteous to those who want to talk to you. They may have struggled with the same fears and insecurities you have. Give them the treatment that a child of God deserves. After all, you want to be treated with the same kindness when you approach someone.

Every so often someone will still tie your tongue and boggle your mind. But remember that person is a human being just like you, and who knows? You may be having the same effect on them.


The thing I found that helped me most was feeling good and confident about myself. You need to take pride in your appearance. If you look good, you’ll feel good. Also you need to develop your talents and qualities so you know you’re being the best person you can be. Then it is easier to be confident with others.

I found it easier to treat members of the opposite sex as friends. Go to combined Young Women/Young Men activities. These are fun and casual. Friendships can be built.

Rachel Munro, 16
Auckland, New Zealand

I’ve been a member of the Church for a year now. I can remember when I first entered the Church, everyone was shaking my hand, welcoming me. I was so nervous, I didn’t want to say a word for fear that I might say something dumb or offend the other person. I didn’t have any confidence in myself, and I was very uneasy. I think the best way to handle this is to tell the person that you are afraid of saying something wrong. I’m sure they will understand and will try to help you as much as they can.

John Ortega, 17
Geigertown, Pennsylvania

When you start shaking, just relax. They aren’t going to bite. To get more confidence, practice on a brother or sister, a friend, or the mirror. Try to make yourself as relaxed as possible and the situation as real as possible so that you really can be confident and more at ease.

Megan Petersen, 13
Pomona, California

Just be yourself. People just want to know the real you. Why be nervous about the unique special someone that you are? Be natural.

Rachael Miller, 18
Herndon, Virginia

Many times people don’t understand how much they have in common. Try to find out what they are interested in before you talk to them. If possible, bring up something you both can relate to. For instance, if you’re at church, talk about the speaker. If you’re at a football game, talk about the team. If you’re at a play, talk about the actors.

It is understandable that you would be nervous. We hear from teachers and advisers how different guys and girls are. Don’t let that frighten you. More than likely the person will be flattered that you talked to them.

Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself. While it is important to be considerate of the other person, your interests are worthwhile to you and something that you care about. Share a piece of yourself and the rewards will be plentiful.

You have to be willing to try. The more you talk to people of the opposite sex, the easier it becomes. Watch people who find it easy to make friends and talk to people. See if you can get any ideas on how they do it. Remember, the person you are talking to is important, but so are you. Pray for help and guidance. Realize you’re a child of a Father in Heaven who loves you and you will have success in whatever you attempt.

Trina McGowan, 16
Sandy, Utah

It is so easy to see only the negative things about ourselves, and sometimes we miss the greatest thing of all. We are all children of our Heavenly Father who loves us and does not judge by any other aspect other than what is inside.

It is not only essential to know and believe that he loves us, but also to love ourselves for who we truly are. Take a good, hard look and you may find a great quality about yourself that is not physical. Once you find it, improve on it. Treasure it and use it to benefit others and yourself for good. This positive quality will shine through and make you feel more confident.

As we read in Romans 8:31, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” [Rom. 8:31] Now tell me, who!

Crystal Davison, 15
Richland, Washington

My companion and I both never dated until we were seniors in high school. We’ve found that both girls and boys, no matter who they are, all have their own insecurities or fears when socializing. Some do not show them as much after being acquainted with friends of the opposite sex. The Lord makes a promise concerning confidence in Doctrine and Covenants 121:45. [D&C 121:45] We as missionaries need confidence in speaking with others, and it is helpful to remember that we are all brothers and sisters.

Elder Jeff Wood, 20
Elder Tim Barlow, 20
Stuart, Florida

Help others with their personal development. Give others the compliments that you wish to receive. By doing this, you give others the self-confidence that they need and you might get a smile in return.

Patricia Summers, 18
Plano, Texas

I find when I talk to guys it comes naturally because I think of them as my friends. I also think they are probably just as terrified as I am or more.

Do not talk about yourself too much. Ask the other person about his hobbies, etc.

If you find that you still lack confidence in yourself, say a prayer to Heavenly Father and through your faith he will bless you with more confidence.

Vanessa Rolls, 16
Westmead N.S.W., Australia

Know that you’re somebody worth knowing. Before you talk to someone you like, think of something nice about them so that you could compliment them on that thing. If it’s someone that you particularly like, think of that person as a friend.

Deborah Polima, 15
Auckland, New Zealand

Photography by Craig J. Moyer